When the Digital Strategy for Wales was launched in March 2021 there were some things that made it a bit different to previous strategies. Welsh Government made the call to adopt the principles of working in the open that we promote for all our work. This meant that the strategy was put out there in draft form, in sections, as it developed, to get feedback, spark conversations and generate content. It gave people working across sectors in Wales to see what was being proposed, challenge it and help deliver a more cohesive strategy.
The second focus was on delivery. Actions not words. No one wanted a strategy that would sit on a shelf and attract dust. There had been enough talking, we needed to see actions and outcomes.
Have those differences led to action on delivery? 12 months on we wanted to see how far Wales had come in achieving its digital vision to improve the lives of everyone through collaboration, innovation and better public services.
That’s why we’ve chosen to focus our Digital Leaders Wales events for 2022 on the digital strategy and its 6 missions:
Mission 1: digital services
Deliver and modernise services so that they are designed around user needs and are simple, secure and convenient.
Mission 2: digital inclusion
Equip people with the motivation, access, skills and confidence to engage with an increasingly digital world, based on their needs.
Mission 3: digital skills
Create a workforce that has the digital skills, capability and confidence to excel in the workplace and in everyday life.
Mission 4: digital economy
Drive economic prosperity and resilience by embracing and exploiting digital innovation.
Mission 5: digital connectivity
Services are supported by fast and reliable infrastructure.
Mission 6: data and collaboration
Services are improved by working together, with data and knowledge being used and shared.
Last Thursday was the first of those events and we invited the Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters, to join me for a conversation about the strategy, progress to date and what comes next.
It was brilliant to see over 100 people from across sectors join us for the online discussion. This meant we were able to bring attendees into the conversation and have some good, open debate about where Wales has got to and what’s next.
The areas we covered included:
We looked at whether the strategy has started to shift the way public services are delivered in Wales, whether the right digital leadership roles are in place and whether we’re seeing services being designed from a user perspective rather than around organisational boundaries. Lee also gave his priorities for the next 12 months for digital to provide better outcomes for the people of Wales.
With an aim to drive economic prosperity in Wales there was a feeling that there’s a stronger role for public procurement to play, with a need for procurement specialists to understand what the strategy sets out to achieve and how we can exploit digital innovation in Wales. We asked Lee about the role of public procurement in delivering the strategy and how can we make sure that it is understood and implemented by procurement specialists.
With the internet of things opening up a wealth of opportunity for using tech and data to improve lives, from smart beaches in Ceredigion to managing housing stock in local authorities. We discussed Welsh Government’s role in ensuring Wales is connected digitally as well as through its physical infrastructure
We explored the need for data driven decisions and an understanding and better use of the data that exists across Wales. There was a recognition of the need for a better general awareness of open data sets and the skills needed across all sectors to take forward sound, actions based on analysis of trends.
Many organisations and sectors that provide services, particularly local government, third sector and housing, rely on funding to deliver their services. We looked at whether the funding mechanisms in place in Wales help or hinder organisations in understanding the root cause of issues and allowing them to innovate to deliver better services.
Questions from the floor included the role of the Centre for Digital Public Services, funding and innovation.
If you missed the session you can watch it on catch up here:
We’ll be sharing more about future events soon, a mix of online and face to face to allow as many people as possible to get involved, share and learn. You can keep up to date with Digital Leaders in Wales by following us on Twitter @DigiLeadersWal or by signing up to the Digital Leaders mailing list here: https://digileaders.com/join